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Play on: school of basketball opens

First of four sport schools gets off to a bouncing start, as Julia Belgutay reports

First of four sport schools gets off to a bouncing start, as Julia Belgutay reports

Scotland's first school of basketball has been launched in North Ayrshire. Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill and Scottish basketball star Kieron Achara launched it at Ardrossan Academy earlier this month.

It is the first of four planned schools of sport to be set up by the council in cooperation with Scottish Rugby, Basketball Scotland and the Scottish Football Association.

The sport schools will be based at Ardrossan (two), Auchenharvie and Irvine academies. The basketball school at Ardrossan is the first of its kind and a key part of basketballscotland's plan to develop the sport.

Kevin Pringle, Basketball Scotland chief executive, said: "This is a pilot project that we expect to provide us with the evidence that will allow us to develop partnerships to deliver schools of basketball throughout Scotland over the coming years".

The school will provide between six and eight hours of training per week to 20 S1 Ardrossan Academy pupils, and will focus on basketball skills, game sense skills, physical competencies, lifestyle management and mental skills.

Participating in sport not only improved health, but had a part to play in raising attainment, improving attendance at school and encouraging better behaviour, the council said, and the School for Sport programme would focus on maximising these benefits, while also providing nutritional guidance and specialist sporting advice.

North Ayrshire councillor Alan Hill, cabinet member for community and culture, said: "I am confident this will be a very successful programme with the potential to be rolled out across our schools and ensure the legacy of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games."

The sport schools will be funded through the Cashback for Communities scheme, which uses money seized from convicted criminals, and matched funding from the council. Mr MacAskill said: "CashBack programmes improve opportunities, self-confidence and self-esteem for our young people. Investing in our young people will always be money well spent".

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